Throughout the course of this site’s 11 year history, i’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink covering the acclaimed Perth-based act and JOVM mainstays POND: Led by its creative mastermind, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Jay Watson, who also performs in JOVM mainstay act Tame Impala, the act which also features Nicholas Allbrook, Joe Ryan, Jamie Terry and James Ireland has released a handful of critically applauded albums that have found the act initially releasing work that was kind of like Royal Trux meets Cream and gradually morphing into progressively psych pop and synth pop territory.
2019’s Tasmania is their most commercially successful and critically applauded album with the album debuting at #15 on the ARIA album charts and #2 on the AIR Independent charts. The album was conceived as a sort of sister effort to its immediate predecessor, 2017’s The Weather. Thematically, the album is a dejected and heartbroken meditation that touches upon our current moment: planetary discord, water and its dearth in much of the world, machismo. shame, blame, responsibility, love, blame and colonialism/empires. And while accurately capturing the undercurrent of the restless, anxious dread that most of us have felt for a while. But rather than wallowing in self-pity and fear, encourages the listener to celebrate and enjoy the small things of life — frolicking in the ocean, rolling around in the grass, the sweet feeling of being in love and so on while we still can.
The JOVM mainstays’ Watson and Ireland produced and mixed, ninth full-length album, the aptly titled 9 is slated for an October 1, 2021 release though Spinning Top Music. 9 reportedly finds the band pushing their sound even further while attempting to recapture an anarchic sense of uncertainty. “We sort of gave ourselves permission to make something stuffed this time,” the band’s Nicholas Albrook says in press notes. “We’d settled into a pretty tight routine with the last few albums and wanted to shake a boat with this so we started off with filling a few tape reels with some absolutely heinous improvised sonic babble which, after much sifting, became the first few songs of the album. We also wanted to up the tempo. The last few albums have a neat little mantra or repetitive theme. If I was forced to find something like that in 9, I guess it would be ‘biography’ or ‘observation’ – a lot of the lyrics seem to focus on single people’s lives, or the lives of small moments or small things when you zoom real close up and they reveal something deeper. Stuff like my cheap Chinese slippers, or a soiled teddy bear, or Agnes Martin (not to put them in the same category, although maybe Agnes would’ve appreciated it). In the Rorschach test of re-reading lyrics, one thing that sticks out is a fixation on leaving behind a time of golden optimism and uncynical abandon. We can’t look at ourselves the same anymore, and the world we’ve built provides a scary lense [sic] for viewing our past.”
Clocking in at a little over four minutes, 9‘s latest single, the slow-burning and atmospheric “Toast” is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, squiggling blasts of guitar, a sinuous bass line, a steady backbeat, a gorgeous string arrangement, some mellotron and a soaring hook paired with Allbook’s plaintive vocals. The end result is a song that sounds like a slick synthesis of Avalon-era Roxy Music and Quiet Storm R&B. But lyrically, the song addresses the massive bush fires that devastated much of Australia and the inequality gap in Allbrook’s Western Australian hometown.
“The intro chords came from a Joe Ryan demo mysteriously titled ‘Toast’. I’ve never asked Joe why he landed on that name, and I probably never will, but it pointed toward the image of fat-headed gobblers touching flutes of bubbles, watching the End of Days gallop over the horizon. I often wonder about those people — the money hoarders, climate change deniers, earth-pilferers and adventure capitalists. Are they nihilists or anarchists or do they really believe they are to be saved by some Rock Opera Jesus? We may never know, but here is ‘Toast,’ which is hopefully as smooth as the smooth, smooth sailing of our glorious leaders fat old white lives,” Allbrook says.
Directed and edited by the members of POND and Alex Haygarth, dine, drink champagne and relentlessly toast each other in the sky — with little concern to anything down on earth. “We filmed the clip on a green screen in an abandoned garden centre in one continuous take. It cost us $300 to make (the price of four takes worth of champagne). I ate five fried eggs over the course of it. Another installment in a long series of homemade Pond videos,” Jay Watson says of of the video.